U.S. Coast Guard takes WTOC on helicopter tour of coastal communities after Hurricane Matthew

U.S. Coast Guard takes WTOC on helicopter tour of coastal communities after Hurricane Matthew

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - The U.S. Coast Guard added additional helicopters, support and made Hunter Army Airfield the Forward Operating Base from Melbourne, FL to Cape Fear, NC.

We were really lucky they allowed us to fly because they don't have to rescue anyone up there. And they have a first-hand knowledge of our air and waterways because they patrol them every single day.

The number one question you've asked, "Is my house, is my neighborhood okay."  So I suited up and tried to give you a bird's eye view of what you might come home to.

Flying out of Savannah heading north, Tybee Island was first. When the data came in the night of the storm, I said on air a 96 mile per hour wind gust. The Commanding Officer Marshall Branch said for a Cat2 wind, Tybee didn't look worse for wear.

"Gratified to see it wasn't quite bad as we thought it might be; structures are still standing, they have wind damage, erosion damage, but they're still standing in a lot of places," said CDR. Branch.

As we were flying over, some of the very first residents who evacuated were returning home to make their own assessments.

Beaufort County still cannot return, so flying up the Hilton Head Island coast, I tried to get a scope of ocean damage. The Port Royal golf community looked inundated, but the commander said it is worse in the harbor.

"We found several marinas that were heavily damaged, storm surge had moved boats, in some cases stacked on top of each other.  We saw commercial fishing trawlers on shore," said CDR. Branch.

The less populated islands, but perhaps the most beloved like Fripp and Hunting, had a lot of beach erosion, but amazing toothpick like structures like this weathered the storm.

While it could have been a lot worse, for a lot it's devastating.

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